Sep 17, 2013

Thinking of Engineer Ari in Jerusalem

Kar-Ben friend and Engineer Ari fan Kathe recently wrote us about the newly renovated Jerusalem train station. She said it made her think of the Engineer Ari books, and it certainly reminded us of them as well!

The History
On August 27, 1892, the first train steamed into Jerusalem from Jaffa, carrying passengers and cargo. A month later, during the High Holidays, the railway officially opened. The train shortened the trip between the Mediterranean coast and Jerusalem from 3 days to 3 1/2 hours. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, who lived in Jerusalem at the time, coined the word rakevet (train) from the Biblical word for "chariot."

The railway began as a modest operation with three train built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. It was rumored that the trains were originally intended for the first Panama Canal project. When this project failed, the trains were shipped to Jaffa instead. The railway was 55 miles long, made 6 stops between Jaffa and Jerusalem, and rose nearly 2500 feet as it curved up through the Judean mountains.

In 1998, the Jerusalem-Jaffa railway and the Jerusalem Railway Station were closed, and the station lay neglected for many years.

In May 2013, however, the Jerusalem train station was newly renovated, incorporating modern shops, restaurants, and other attractions into the historic site, making the old station into a hub of activity as a cultural and entertainment center.

Engineer Ari
Enigineer Ari has had many different adventures on the railway, but Enigneer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride highlights a particular moment in history - the opening of the railway from Jaffa to Jerusalem - and this particular train station.

In Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride, Engineer Ari has been chosen to drive the very first train from Jaffa to Jerusalem - what an honor! But after boasting to his fellow engineers, he forgets to say good-bye. As he journeys up and down the hills wishing everyone a Happy New Year, he remembers that Rosh Hashanah is a time for turning around and saying you're sorry.

Other Engineer Ari titles include Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap and Engineer Ari and the Sukkah Express, available at

Thank you for the photos, Kathe!

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